The late Stephen Beck, Jr. spent ten years advocating for the Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This landmark legislation enables individuals with disabilities to easily save money in a tax-exempt account that may be used for qualified expenses while keeping their eligibility for means-tested public benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Along the Way PA
Single mothers can’t lift themselves out of poverty if they can’t find and show up consistently to jobs, many of which don’t fit into traditional business hours. The pandemic has only exacerbated the already impossible choices so many working moms face. Recognizing this need, Along The Way offers free, high-quality, in-home child care during nights and weekends, plus assistance in food, clothing, housing, financial literacy, job training, legal aid, health clinics, and domestic violence.
Our country has powerful systems for people in crisis—many of which we’ve paid into. And yet, we so rarely know where to turn when we are disabled or suffer from an injury or accident. Atticus gives people free support to access the aid they’re entitled to when they need it most.
Benefits Data Trust
Millions of people struggle to pay for basic necessities everyday, despite the fact that they are often eligible for assistance. The pandemic only worsened the insecurity. Benefits Data Trust is bringing mindsets and tools historically reserved for the private sector—human-centered design, targeted outreach, data and technology—to bear. Since 2005, they’ve screened more than 1.2 million households and secured over $9 billion in benefits and services.
Carefull is a financial services platform designed for older adults — helping them avoid scams and bring their adult children into the big financial picture while maintaining autonomy. An estimated 45 million Americans are the financial caregivers for their elderly parents, but that statistic doesn’t fully capture the dynamism of that evolving relationship. Carefull gets it, and has designed an elegantly simple platform with the ongoing complexity of families and finances in mind.
Code for America
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit for low- and moderate-income workers, is arguably the largest anti-poverty program in the country. Yet, every year, American families aren’t receiving billions of EITC dollars because they don’t know they are due or how to access the money. Code for America identified the choke points for both the EITC and stimulus money, including the Child Tax Credit, and designed a platform to unlock these vital supports.
Despite the fact that digital natives can access just about any financial information that they could possibly want, too many are still illiterate about finances and accruing consumer and educational debt without a plan. Copper is designed as teen-first banking and a teen’s first bank account, providing an FDIC-backed digital bank account linked to 50,000 ATMs, plus special services for parents like an automatic “teen salary,” alerts, and smart controls. Their average user is just 15.
Duty Free Film
Some say filmmaker Sian-Pierre Regis embodies the millennial caregiver. When his mom, Rebecca Danigelis, lost her job as a hotel housekeeper and got evicted, he picked up his camera and created their documentary film, Duty Free. In it, they tick off Rebecca's bucket list and follow her struggle to get work at 75. They’ve been traveling the country together, talking about financial insecurity, ageism, and so much more.
For those who qualify, nonprofit support or government aid may make financial caregiving easier. More start-ups are creating products and services. But few large financial institutions have taken meaningful steps towards acknowledging the way that care affects people’s financial lives. Fidelity is a notable exception. With their many resource guides and calculators, they are holistically embracing the many intersections between care, aging, and finances.
Inspired by watching her cousin become the first licensed facial specialist in Florida with Down syndrome, Charlotte Dales—along with co-founder, Sarah Bernard—became determined to help people in the disability community find work that lit them up; currently only 29% of adults with disabilities have jobs. Inclusively connects job seekers with disabilities, mental health conditions, and chronic illnesses, to inclusive employers committed to welcoming them.
During LIFT coaching sessions, low-income parents (100% people of color and 91% women) reach goals, like securing financial aid or decreasing debt, and work towards bigger dreams of going back to college or securing a higher-paying job. The average family sees $63,000 in net benefits and 65% report reduced stress after just three months of being in the program. Michelle Rhone-Collins believes the secret sauce of LIFT is “hope, money and love.”
New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department
It’s no mystery that one of the biggest obstacles to attracting talent into the early childhood space is salaries; the average preschool teacher makes $13 an hour. The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department has created a first-of-its-kind program, helping early childhood educators get a more dignified wage. Teachers, teacher’s assistants, or family childcare home professionals who work with children from birth to age five are eligible.
So many people have struggled to pay basic utility bills and taxes over the last couple of years. But it’s not just that they don’t have the money; it’s that the systems they are in debt to are rarely aligned with their real lives. Promise Pay acts as a sort of middleman, integrating with official payment systems and offering more forgiving terms for fees and debts people can’t handle all at once. And it’s working: they have over a 90% repayment rate.
Too many elders find modern banking impersonal, confusing, and anxiety-producing. Sagewell, in contrast, is a one-stop shop specifically built to encourage senior citizens’ confidence—everything from having a consistent teller to paying bills for free to programming an automatic paycheck. As Zimmerman says, he’s “building the bank our parents deserve.”
Forty percent of Americans have less than $400 in savings, leaving them precarious–especially during a pandemic. The SaverLife platform takes a unique approach—incentivizing saving through prizes, rewards, and collaborative partnerships with financial institutions. And it works—SaverLife members more than quadruple their savings rate within six months of joining, giving their families a chance for greater stability and a chance to pursue their real dreams rather than scrambling to keep up.
The good news is that workers are demanding leave for the inevitable caregiving pauses that life presents; the bad news is that, nearly 30 years since the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed, it is still very confusing to figure out how to manage leave. With a complex and ever-evolving regulatory landscape and remote work now throwing everything up in the air, many companies are struggling to keep up. That’s where Sparrow comes in—facilitating “employee leave without the pain.”
The Institute for the Study of Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School
Baby Bonds, in which every child receives at birth a publicly funded trust account, may sound radical, but it’s a lot less expensive than child poverty, which, in the United States alone, is estimated to cost taxpayers $1 trillion a year. Hamilton has done pioneering work on making a clear policy case for why baby bonds are both a moral and economic imperative (among much else); as the political winds shift, it will be interesting to see if his insights can be put to use.
Over 4 in 5 low-income families can’t access the basic civil legal rights they’re owed because then can’t get the legal help they need. Upsolve, started in 2016, is changing that—helping low-income families file bankruptcy for free using a simple online app. For many, it is a transformational fresh start—freedom from wage garnishment, low credit scores, and so many other factors that keep people from pursuing their best lives.
Washington Cares Fund
The Washington Cares Fund is a first-of-its-kind program that lays the groundwork for a more dignified way to age. Washingtonians contribute a small percentage of their earnings towards long term care; beginning in January 2026, each person who is eligible can access supports costing up to $36,500 for everything from meal delivery to hiring a home health aid to making home modifications. This is a policy to watch during a time when another 10,000 people turn 65 every single day in America.
Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement
Women not only live longer than men, but tend to have less lifetime earnings, access to retirement benefits, and are more dependent on social security. The Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement provides information for women, particularly from low to moderate-income backgrounds, on everything from insurance to widowhood, scams to debt. Their new financial caregiving hub is a huge service–helping anyone in a caregiving position navigate the financial challenges they might face.
Zirtue, is a first-of-its kind app, which simplifies loans between friends and family with automatic monthly payments and easy-to-follow accountability. What makes it radical, not just useful, is that it’s aimed at people who are often structurally excluded from bank loans and/or fall prey to predatory and payday lenders. Zirtue represents a future of fintech that we can get behind–beautiful design and historic inclusion.